David Jones is proud to announce that it has partnered with the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation’s (DAAFF) Indigenous Fashion Projects, to present its Pathways Program for Indigenous Australian fashion designers.
The “Pathways Program” is a rolling, 12-month fashion label development program that brings together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander designers with fashion industry leaders to help develop their craft, build stronger businesses and help raise awareness and the profile of Indigenous designers. The initiative is part of David Jones’s ongoing commitment to supporting diverse design perspectives and working towards a future Australian fashion industry that is more inclusive and representative of Indigenous design and culture.
“Indigenous design is grounded in more than 60,000 years of heritage…David Jones will not only bring industry knowledge and expertise to Indigenous labels, but the David Jones team has a strong desire to listen and learn from our First Nations designers, as well as nurture, support and mentor. We hope this leadership, and program, will create a model for the fashion industry as well as other creative industries in how they too can support Indigenous creatives,” says Francesca Cubillo, DAAFF Chair. “Indigenous fashion represents less than 0.5% of the Australian fashion industry, clearly that doesn’t make sense. We hope that this and other programs like this will dramatically address this imbalance over the years to come.”
The program will be facilitated through workshops, seminars, mentoring and network opportunities. It is a two-way learning process which includes listening and the sharing of culture and stories, as well as developing a better understanding of the practicalities of growing a label in the global fashion industry.
Working with DAAFF has allowed David Jones to collaborate with a partner with the expertise, knowledge and understanding of the issues and challenges at hand and helps guide in the right way, to contribute where it most counts.
Program support will come from David Jones industry experts and other areas of the fashion industry including Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia and David Jones’ Australian designer family.
“From established icons including Kit Willow of KITX, to emerging talent such as Charlotte Hicks of Esse (who is in her first season working with David Jones), there is a genuine passion to be part of this program and nurture Indigenous designers, as well as learn more from the history and culture of our First Nations people”
Bridget Veals, David Jones General Manager Womenswear, Footwear & Accessories.
The first Indigenous designer to participate in the “Pathways Program” is Ngali founder Denni Francisco, with further designer participants to be announced in the coming weeks.
When asked to describe why Denni Franciso is a First Nations designer to watch, DAAFF Chair Francesca Cubillo explains “Denni is a Wiradjuri woman and her collection is a wonderful example of the power of collaboration. She traveled to the Kimberley to work, and build a friendship with Gija artist, Lindsay Malay (Warmun Arts Centre, WA). ”
“The integrity of this collaboration (between designer and artist) is founded in the mutual respect and sharing of spirituality, country, ancestors and kinship between Denni and Lindsay’s cultures.”
Photo by Denni Francisco of Ngali’s friend and creative collaborator, Gija artist, Lindsay Malay (Warnum Arts Centre, WA)
We sat down with Denni Francisco, founder and designer of Ngali, to find out more about what her selection to participate in the “Pathways Program” means to her.
What does it mean to be chosen to be part of the ‘Pathways’ program?
This is an exciting opportunity for Ngali, and I am super excited to be invited. As a social enterprise, everything we do by way of building our brand awareness and our customer numbers helps us to help others in our communities. Everything we do as First Nations Peoples is in consideration of those who follow us so a Pathways program that enhances our business means laying down a path that more of our upcoming creatives could choose to follow.
How do you envision the ‘Pathways’ program will help propel your label forward, and help you to grow in the mainstream Australian fashion scene?
Ngali is a young brand so the Pathways program provides a great opportunity to expand the reach of our label and for more people to learn about who we are. Importantly though it can help us to learn more and fine tune our business processes and our growth opportunities.
In what ways are you hopeful the support of this program might prompt new, bigger audiences to embrace Indigenous fashion labels like Ngali, that perhaps they hadn’t before?
(David Jones’) support of Ngali and other Indigenous labels helps a bigger audience celebrate our culture and creativity and also helps add a meaningful dimension to the fashion choices customers make, because our culture is embedded in everything we do.
Many customers are looking to make more meaningful decisions in their purchasing, and I am hopeful that by sharing our stories, our culture and our labels, David Jones can help celebrate with their wider audience Indigenous creativity that has been thousands of years in the making.
Ngali fashion is like taking Indigenous art off the wall and have it walk the streets anywhere in the world. This is the vision I have, and my hope is that the support of David Jones can help to have this vision realised.